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Sorry, But You Are NOT A DJ …
Martin Sitter on Thu, March 31st | 5 comments
Op Ed: Martin Sitter, Founder of NonLinear Educating Inc.—and the CEO of Ask.Audio—expresses strong opinions about what it means to be a DJ, and why you are probably not one ...

Note: ARTICLE UPDATED - NOON APRIL 1ST - SEE BOTTOM OF ARTICLE

This is a pure opinion piece by Martin Sitter, our Founder and CEO. It in no way reflects the corporate stance, philosophy, or teachings of Ask,Audio, The Ask.Audio Academy, macProVideo, AskVideo, or any other NonLinear Educating Property.

Beat Match Or Die

Everyone’s a DJ. For example, I’m one. You might be one too … it’s easy to know if you are, or if you’re not. The test is simple:

Do you Jockey Discs while performing?

If yes, you are a "Disc Jockey"—a DJ. If no, well … I’m not really sure what you are. But I do know what you are not ... 

Play it while reading: A DJ Mix by Martin S—2 Technics 1200s, Allen & Heath Xone DB4, Serato Scratch Live. 

A DJ is a person that understands things like phrasing, but also knows how to play with pitch and key by slowing down or speeding up a disc like a Record (for purists like me) or a CD (for those who have moved on). A DJ can, and in the modern era probably should, use Serato, Final Scratch, Traktor, or a similar vinyl/CD controller with their computer (because there is just no other way to get the music). These are all things DJ’s can do.

DJs Jockey Discs ... A DJ is a "D"isc "J"ockey

Even if you do play discs, it still doesn't necessarily mean you are a DJ. It's important to understand a DJ does *not* let their gear Mix or "Beat Match" for them. That’s what dilettantes do … those people that never really bothered to master the craft (you know what I'm getting at: those people that aren’t really DJs). If you've been around the scene for any time at all, you know at least a few people that think they can DJ, but really can't. You kind of chuckle inside when they call themselves a DJ ... 

Beat-matching is THE primary - and defining - skill of a “DJ.”

DJs jockey discs. They speed them up, they slow them down, and most importantly, they mix the discs together. That’s what a DJ does. 

Martin S. Uses Vinyl Controllers When He DJs ...

 © 2014 pbj/foto (Peter B. Jakab) www.facebook.com/pbjfoto  

The Past

I started DJ’ing as a teenager in the 80s. Back then it meant something. In a time when the entire planet could count the number of House DJs on a hundred hands, I was one of those. I’ve seen the phenomenon grow from the beginning.

In the 80s and through the 90s, nobody wanted to be a DJ. It wasn’t one of those things you just said, “Imma gonna do this" because "it’s cool!” or “Chicks Dig It.”

 Beat-matching is THE primary - and defining - skill of a “DJ.”

DJ’ing was hard. Most people that try to beat match records give up quickly and return to the dance floor. You can’t just BE a DJ. It takes practice. Long hours in total isolation honing the craft. DJ’ing was a thing you dedicated your life to. Back then, you did it because you had too … needed to, even.

You didn’t just push a button and move a cross fader. You had to own your mixes, and the dance floor appreciated that. Rooms filled with sweaty bodies would hang on the ragged edge of the DJ’s skill. There’s nothing that excites a dance floor more than hearing a mix as it’s starting to go off, and then seeing the DJ take control … riding that beat like a cowboy steering a surly bull back into the shoot. Back into the groove. Disaster averted—that is excitement on the dance floor. That is what the DJ lives for … it’s called “vibe” or “energy,” and it elevates the room.

This is how it was when I started DJ’ing. And if you’re actually a DJ, this is how it still works today.

Martin S. Enjoys DJ'ing at Hush Nightclub (R.I.P) Victoria

© 2014 pbj/foto (Peter B. Jakab) www.facebook.com/pbjfoto 

The Present

Fast forward to the modern musical era, and a DJ is … well, anything you want it to be! Do you play an Ableton Push? Congrats dude … you’re a DJ. Do you stand on stage and trigger samples while fist pumping the air. Definitely a DJ. Do you play an electric kazoo while using a foot pedal to loop beats through Logic’s Environment Objects? Go-on-then … you can be a DJ too. Why not? Today, everyone’s a DJ … 

 Martin S. "Performs" Who's Creepin' - Logic Pro & 3 Moog Analog Synths. 

I’m not trying to belittle your performance. Heck no—I’m the CEO of NonLinear Educating! I founded this company to HELP people make music of all types. If you’ve worked hard to hone your craft, if you’ve devoted your life to the music, if you strive every day to become the best artist, and the best performer you can be, then I salute you fully! It’s very likely, you learned those skills at macProVideo or Ask.Audio … and that’s as I always dreamed it would be.

Maybe you can noodle some chords on a keyboard, but that doesn't make you a Pianist. So why do you claim to be a DJ, if you don't play Discs?

My passion is helping people—that’s why I started this company. I want you to become a great artist in whatever way it pleases your soul, but I don’t want you to call yourself a DJ if you’re not one. It’s belittling to those of us that actually are DJs.

I mean, you might be able to lay down a sick finger drumming session on an MPC, but that doesn't make you an actual drummer. Maybe you can noodle some chords on a keyboard, but that doesn't make you a Pianist. So why do you claim to be a DJ, if you don't play Discs? I know we’re cool. I know you want to be like us. If you’re not jockeying a disc … I'm sorry, but you’re not a DJ.

Or wait ... maybe you can be …

The Future 

Do you want to be a DJ? Well, you’re in luck. The first training video I ever made was a “How To DJ” video called, “How To Match Beatz In 2 Minutes.” Study this video, and you’ll be able to DJ just like me … ;) 

 

Martin's 1st Tutorial-Video - How To Match Beatz In 2 Minutes - Released the morning of April 1st, 2000.

 

                                                      APRIL FOOLS! 

This article was writen to get people talking. It certainly did that! While we are suprised with the vitriol that some people attacked Martin and this article, we do feel that some intelligent debate has ensued. In the modern era, the DJ is facing an almost existential problem—what, really, is a DJ? It's clear to us now, that nobody really knows, and everyone has a different opinion.

Facebook Post - https://www.facebook.com/AskAudio/

Whatever kind of DJ you are, the only thing that matters is that you transfer your passion for the music to the dancefloor. DJing is now, and always has been about passion for the music. We see from the comments about this article on Facebook and other places that people are certainly passionate about this topic. That's as it should be.

We urge you ALL to introspect on how you react to the world, especially online ... don't be a troll. Act and respond like a thinking human. We're all here to learn, and to become better artists. Dialog is just one small part of that ... bullying is not!

But above all else, continue to make great music. Ask.Audio is here to support you!

April Fools to all our friends that thought this was real ... we LOVE you!

  

Comments (5)

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  • Napamio
    I think you should keep this opinion to you-self and not discourage young wannabe DJs
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Napamio
    Reply
  • BlackJoker
    I don't think this is discouraging at all; if they want to be a "dj" then they can do the automatic stuff like letting the equipment beat match for them. If they want to be a DJ, rather than a glorified jukebox, then this perfectly sums up what it means to be one, and what they have to do to become one.
    • 3 years ago
    • By: BlackJoker
  • discoali
    Beat matching is not the be all and end all. David Mancuso never beat matched and his loft parties are one of the pillars on which the history of DJing is built, in fact until Francis Grasso turned up at the Sanctuary no DJ beat matched. Reading the room and making the right selection are equally as important if not more so. Anyone can learn to beat match it's not that difficult. The ability to transmit energy to a crowd, move the music with the crowd and on occasion lead the crowd in the right direction, that is what makes a great DJ. How they choose to do this shouldn't have any bearing on their standing as a "Disc Jockey".
    • 3 years ago
    • By: discoali
    Reply
  • Ivandub
    Actually, real disk jockeys worked at AM radio stations in the 1950's and 60's and played the pop songs of the day on "disks"...vinyl records. They certainly weren't concerned with "beat matching". Time goes by, terminology evolves and today's DJ's have little resemblance to the original disk jockeys i grew up with as a kid. Either this article really was inteded as an April Fool's joke or Mr. Sitter is experiencing an identity crisis and needs to stoke his ego by putting down others who don't measure up to his standards. By my definition of a disk jockey, neither does he although I respect what the current crop of DJ's do. Just like the DJ's of my youth, some were great, some were mediocre but isn't that the way with all things?
    • 3 years ago
    • By: Ivandub
    Reply
  • madconfusion
    It took all of my will power to read the entire article, and I am glad I made it to the "April Fools" part. Well played!
    • 3 years ago
    • By: madconfusion
    Reply
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